The LEADER′S GUIDE to Storytelling
This revised and updated edition of the best–selling book The Leader′s Guide to Storytelling shows how storytelling can be used to handle the most important and difficult challenges of leadership: sparking action, getting people to work together, and leading people into the future.
Using a myriad of illustrative examples and how–to techniques, The Leader′s Guide to Storytelling explains how you can learn to tell the right story at the right time. Throughout the book, master storyteller and former World Bank executive Stephen Denning debunks commonly held myths about storytelling and offers a practical guide for any leader CEO, middle management, or someone on the front lines who wants to tap into the power of stories to effect change within their organizations. He shows how to select the right narrative pattern for the leadership task at hand and offers encouragement for reluctant storytellers. He reminds us that learning to tell stories is less a task of learning something new and more one of reminding ourselves of something we already know. It is a matter of transposing the skills we apply effortlessly in a social situation to formal settings.
Leadership is essentially an activity of connection of connecting with people′s minds and hearts. Using the discipline of the business narrative, storytelling leaders can enable others to imagine new perspectives. Effective storytelling can also help leaders communicate who they are or what their company is, transmit values, share knowledge, tame the grapevine, and create a vision for what′s to come.
The revised and updated edition of this book reflects changes in organizational thinking that have occurred over the last five years. It reflects how storytelling has become a central component both in leadership, as described in The Secret Language of Leadership, and in management, as described in The Leader′s Guide to Radical Management. It also shows how social media are transforming branding and marketing and how our understanding of disruptive innovation has evolved.
Introduction The purpose of the book and the process by which it came to be written.
Part One: The Role of Story in Organizations.
1 Telling the Right Story: Choosing the Right Story for the Leadership Challenge at Hand.
Based on the author′s personal journey of discovery, the chapter offers a catalogue of narrative patterns and a cost–benefit analysis of organizational storytelling.
2 Telling the Story Right: Four Key Elements of Storytelling Performance.
In an organizational context, telling the story right usually begins by choosing a plain style in which you tell the story as though you are talking to a single individual. You tell the truth as you see it, and prepare carefully for the performance. In the actual performance, you make yourself fully available for the audience and endeavor to connect with them as individuals.
Part Two: Eight Narrative Patterns.
3 Motivate Others to Action: Using Narrative to Ignite Action and Implement New Ideas.
The challenge of igniting action and implementing new ideas is pervasive in organizations today. The main elements of the kind of story that can accomplish this a springboard story are the story′s foundation in a sound change idea, its truth, its minimalist style, and its positive tone.
4 Build Trust: Using Narrative to Communicate Who You Are.
Communicating who you are and so building trust in you as an authentic person is vital for today′s leader. The type of story that can accomplish this typically focuses on a turning point in your life. It has a positive tone and is told with context. Sometimes it is appropriate to tell your story, but sometimes it isn′t.
5 Use Narrative to Build Your Brand: The World of Social Media.
Just as a story can communicate who you are, a story can communicate who your company is. Stories that the company tells about its brand are becoming less important than stories that customers tell. The products and services that are being offered are often the most effective vehicle to communicate the brand narrative to external stakeholders.
6 Transmit Your Values: Using Narrative to Instill Organizational Values.
Values differ: there are robber baron, hardball, instrumental, and ethical values; there are personal and corporate values, and espoused and operational values. Values are established by actions and can be transmitted by narratives like parables that are not necessarily true and are typically told in a minimalist fashion.
7 Get Others Working Together: Using Narrative to Get Things Done Collaboratively.
Different patterns of working together include work groups, teams, communities, and networks. Whereas conventional management techniques have difficulty in generating high–performing teams and communities, narrative techniques are well suited to the challenge.
8 Share Knowledge: Using Narrative to Transmit Knowledge and Understanding.
Knowledge–sharing stories tend to be about problems and have a different pattern from the traditional well–told story. They are told with context, and have something traditional stories lack: an explanation. Establishing the appropriate setting for telling the story is often a central aspect of eliciting knowledge–sharing stories.
9 Tame the Grapevine: Using Narrative to Neutralize Gossip and Rumor.
Stories form the basis of corporate culture, which is a type of know–how. Although conventional management techniques are generally impotent to deal with the rumor mill, narrative techniques can neutralize untrue rumors by satirizing them out of existence.
10 Create and Share Your Vision: Using Narrative to Lead People into the Future.
Future stories are important to organizations, although they can be difficult to tell in a compelling fashion since the future is inherently uncertain. The leader can tell a future story in an evocative fashion or use a springboard story as a shortcut to the future. The differences among simulations, informal stories, plans, business models, strategies, scenarios, and visions are reviewed.
Part Three: Putting It All Together.
11 Solve the Paradox of Innovation: The Role of Narrative in Continuous Innovation.
None of the traditional approaches to transformational innovation actually works. Solving the paradox of innovation requires rethinking the whole concept of management. Storytelling has a major role to play.
12 A Different Kind of Leader: Using Narrative to Become an Interactive Leader.
Effective use of the full array of narrative techniques entails becoming an interactive leader, that is, a kind of leader quite different from a conventional command–and–control manager. The interactive leader is someone who participates, connects, and communicates with people on a plane of equality and is relatively free of ego.
About the Author.
STEPHEN DENNING is a leading writer and consultant who consults to organizations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia in the areas of leadership, innovation, business narrative, and management. He is the author of the acclaimed books Squirrel Inc., The Secret Language of Leadership, and The Leader′s Guide to Radical Management.